Golfer’s elbow occurs when the forearm tendons tear and become inflamed. It often results from overuse or repetitive motions. Treatment options include rest, specific exercises, medication, and surgery.

Medial epicondylitis, also known as “golfer’s elbow,” is a common sports injury, although more than 90% of cases are not sports-related. It is most common in people aged 40–50 years.

Golfer’s elbow occurs when forearm tendons tear, leading to inflammation and pain inside the elbow. It can result from repetitive motion, overuse, or tendonitis.

This article outlines treatment options for golfer’s elbow, including pain-relief medications, exercises, and surgery. It will also discuss recovery time.

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The treatment for golfer’s elbow aims to:

  • relieve pain
  • improve function
  • reduce inflammation
  • prevent further injury
  • improve range of motion

After diagnosing golfer’s elbow, doctors usually recommend avoiding activities that may aggravate it. However, this may be difficult for people with certain occupations or athletes.

Doctors may recommend various treatments for golfer’s elbow, which we outline in the following sections.

People should aim to avoid activities that may worsen their injury. If possible, they need to rest the arm and elevate it when lying or sitting down. When they need to use the arm, they should reduce the strain on it as much as possible.

Braces that people can wear around the elbow or on the forearm may take the strain off the muscles, but it is unclear whether or not this helps. People can ask a healthcare professional or pharmacist how to wear a brace or epicondylitis clasp.

Stretching and stretching exercises may improve flexibility and speed up the healing process.

Eccentric exercises involve simultaneously stretching and strengthening the flexor muscles of the forearm. Some exercises require weights, but they must not be too heavy. A 2018 article suggests using weights of around 30% of the maximum weight a person can hold.

A person can undertake these exercises actively by carrying them out themselves. Alternatively, they can ask a physiotherapist or training partner to perform them, which refers to passive exercise.

Find stretching and strengthening exercises for golfer’s elbow.

Medications may help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They include the following.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and diclofenac, may help relieve the initial severe pain of golfer’s elbow. They can also reduce inflammation.

However, NSAIDs are unsuitable for long-term use, as they can cause stomach ulcers and kidney damage. People can apply them to the elbow as a gel or patch or take them in tablet form.

There is no evidence that NSAIDs speed up the healing process.

Adults can take NSAIDs in doses of 800–2,400 milligrams (mg) daily to treat pain.


Acetaminophen may also alleviate the pain of golfer’s elbow. However, people should not use acetaminophen for long periods and avoid taking it if they drink heavily or have liver damage.

For adults, the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen is 4,000 mg, and the maximum single dose is 1,000 mg. They should not exceed these maximum dosage levels.

Elbow injections

Doctors may also prescribe injections to treat the affected elbow if a person’s pain is severe and other treatments are ineffective. Injections may cause side effects, including tissue damage and pain at the injection site.

Injection types include:

  • steroids
  • hyaluronic acid
  • Botox
  • autologous blood injections

Learn about steroid injections.

In severe cases, and if a person’s pain has not resolved within 12 months, doctors may recommend open medial epicondylar release surgery.

In this procedure, a surgeon makes an incision along the elbow and then cuts the flexor tendon. The surgeon then removes any damaged or scarred tissues and bone spurs if they are present. Sometimes, they will attach the loose end of the tendon to nearby tissues. Finally, they will use stitches to close the wound.

Recovery time from surgery, benefits, and risks

There have been few studies into this surgery, but one small study found that 14 out of 15 patients experienced little or no discomfort following surgery. Of the 12 patients in employment before surgery, 11 could return to the same job within 8 weeks of the operation.

Doctors usually only recommend surgery when conservative treatments are ineffective.

As with all surgery, there are some risks, such as infection at the incision site. There is also the risk that the surgery will be unsuccessful.

Recovery time for golfer’s elbow depends on various factors, such as the severity of the injury. Other factors, such as previous injuries, a person’s age, and general health, may also affect recovery time. Symptoms usually improve after a few months, even without special treatment.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) suggests that if a person’s condition is not better after 6 weeks, they can speak with a doctor for further advice or referral to a physiotherapist.

Golfer’s elbow causes pain and inflammation between the elbow and wrist. It may result from repetitive motions and overuse. The pain usually starts in the elbow and radiates to the forearm and wrist.

Treatments for golfer’s elbow include rest, gentle exercises, and medication. Doctors may recommend surgery for severe cases.

Golfer’s elbow usually improves in a few months, but severe injuries may take longer to heal.